Porn star's lawyer asks court to deny Trump lawyer's push for arbitration

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lawyer for Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who says she had sex with U.S. President Donald Trump, on Monday asked a federal judge to set aside a motion by Trump's lawyer to force her to use arbitration to settle a dispute over an agreement to keep quiet about the encounter.

 

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, made the request a day after he filed court papers in Los Angeles demanding that Trump submit to questions about the $130,000 hush money paid just before the 2016 presidential election.

 

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, last month sued Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, to be released from the nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016 in exchange for $130,000, which Cohen said he paid from his own pocket.

 

Trump, in his first public remarks about Daniels' accusation, said last week he did not know about the payment made by his lawyer.

 

The White House has denied that Trump had sex with Daniels.

A week ago, Cohen's attorney argued in a court filing that the agreement included a provision that any disputes over it be settled through arbitration, as opposed to open court.

In his court filing on Monday, Avenatti laid out arguments to support his request for setting side the motion to force arbitration and allow a jury trial.

The lawyer said Trump never signed the settlement agreement. "Thus, there never was an agreement to arbitrate," he added.

Avenatti also rejected an argument made by Cohen's lawyer in last week's filing that the agreement's language did not specify that Trump needed to sign it for it to be binding.

"We will continue to fight to keep this case in a public courtroom where sunlight can act as a disinfectant and the search for the truth can flourish," Avenatti said in a Twitter post.

In his filing on Sunday, Avenatti said, "If Mr Trump did not supply the funds or did not even know about the funds, this would be another relevant fact demonstrating that he never consented to the settlement agreement."

In an interview that aired last month, Daniels told CBS's "60 Minutes" program that she and Trump had sexual relations only once, in 2006, but he had kept in touch with her.

In the same court on Monday, Cohen filed a separate motion seeking to dismiss a defamation claim by Daniels, citing a California law prohibiting lawsuits intended to silence people exercising free speech rights.

Cohen's offices and home were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday, law enforcement sources said.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; additional reporting by Eric Walsh; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O'Brien)

 
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